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Cheshire Plain from the Mid Cheshire Ridge

Cheshire shown within England

Cheshire showing four unitary authorities

Cheshire is a ceremonial county in the North West of England. Chester is the county town, and formerly gave its name to the county. The largest town is Warrington, and other major towns include Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Widnes, Wilmslow and Winsford. The county is administered as four unitary authorities.

Cheshire occupies a boulder clay plain (pictured) which separates the hills of North Wales from the Peak District of Derbyshire. The county covers an area of 2,343 km2 (905 sq mi), with a high point of 559 m (1,834 ft) elevation. The estimated population is a little over one million, 19th highest in England, with a population density of around 450 people per km2.

The county was created in around 920, but the area has a long history of human occupation dating back to before the last Ice Age. Deva was a major Roman fort, and Cheshire played an important part in the Civil War. Predominantly rural, the county is historically famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt and silk. During the 19th century, towns in the north of the county were pioneers of the chemical industry, while Crewe became a major railway junction and engineering facility.

Selected article

Lyme Park south front

Lyme Park is a large estate located south of Disley. The Grade I listed mansion house, now the largest in Cheshire, is surrounded by formal gardens and set in a 14th-century deer park within the Peak District National Park.

The estate was granted to Sir Thomas Danyers in 1346 and passed to the Leghs of Lyme by marriage in 1388, remaining in this family until 1946. The present house dates from the late 16th century. It was modified in the 1720s by Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni, using elements of both Palladian and Baroque styles. Further modifications were made by Lewis Wyatt in the 19th century, especially to the interior. Formal gardens were laid out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and include a sunken Dutch Garden. The grounds contain an orangery, stables, kennels, a tower known as "the Cage", and a belvedere known as "the Lantern".

Lyme Hall stood in for Pemberley in a BBC television adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and the park has also appeared in the science fiction series Red Dwarf. The house, gardens and park are now owned by the National Trust, and are open to the public.

Selected image

Illustration from the poem,

The 14th-century author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl, among other poems, wrote in the Cheshire dialect. He is believed to have been a native of east Cheshire or west Staffordshire, perhaps a member of the Massey family. This illustration from the Pearl manuscript shows the author (left) in the role of the father.

Credit: Unknown (14th century)

In this month

Cartoon of Hall Caine, by Harry Furniss

3 May 1938: Cheshire County Council granted a banner of arms, now the county flag.

8 May 1817: Early paper on Cheshire dialect read at Society of Antiquaries by Roger Wilbraham.

12 May 1278: Fire destroyed much of Chester.

13 May 1983: Lindow Woman bog body discovered.

14 May 1853: Novelist and playwright Hall Caine (pictured) born in Runcorn.

18 May 1980: Musician Ian Curtis committed suicide at Macclesfield.

21 May 1868: First train crossed Runcorn Railway Bridge.

21 May 1894: Manchester Ship Canal officially opened by Queen Victoria.

23 May 1911: Architect John Douglas died in Chester.

24 May 1847: Five people killed in the Dee bridge disaster.

27 May 1899: Eastgate Clock unveiled, marking the 80th birthday of Queen Victoria.

29 May 1905: Widnes–Runcorn Transporter Bridge officially opened by Sir John Brunner.

31 May 1807: Primitive Methodism originated in a prayer meeting at Mow Cop.

31 May 1939: Humanitarian Terry Waite born in Styal.

Selected list

St Michael

A total of 43 churches and chapels in Cheshire are listed at grade I. Although Christian churches have existed in the county since the Anglo-Saxon era, no significant Saxon features remain in its listed churches. Surviving Norman architecture is found, notably in Chester Cathedral and St John the Baptist, Chester.

Most of the grade-I-listed churches are in the Gothic style, dating between the 13th and the 17th centuries, predominantly in the Perpendicular style. There are some examples of Neoclassical architecture, including St Peter, Aston-by-Sutton, and St Peter, Congleton. The only buildings dating from a later period are Waterhouse's Eaton Chapel in French Rayonnant style, and Bodley's Church of St Mary at Eccleston, in Gothic Revival style, both from the 19th century.

Major building materials are the local sandstone and limestone. A handful of timber-framed churches survive, some of which have been encased in brick; examples include St Michael, Baddiley (pictured), St Luke, Holmes Chapel, St Oswald, Lower Peover, and St James and St Paul, Marton.

Geography

Top: Map of modern Cheshire showing urban areas (grey) and the major road network. Chester (red) is the county town, and Warrington has the greatest population. Towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants in 2011 are highlighted; the size of dot gives a rough indication of the relative population. Wales and the adjacent English counties are shown in capitals.

Bottom: Relief map showing the major hills. The Mid Cheshire Ridge is a discontinuous ridge of low hills running north–south from Beacon Hill (north of Helsby Hill) to Bickerton Hill. Most other high ground falls within the Peak District in the east of the county. Shining Tor (559 metres), on the boundary with Derbyshire, forms the county's high point.

Administration

Cheshire West and ChesterCheshire EastCheshire EastCheshire EastHaltonWarringtonCheshire unitary number.png
About this image

The ceremonial county of Cheshire is administered by four unitary authorities (click on the map for details):

1 – Cheshire West and Chester

2 – Cheshire East

3 – Warrington

4 – Halton

In the local government reorganisation of 1974, Cheshire gained an area formerly in Lancashire including Widnes and Warrington. The county lost Tintwistle to Derbyshire, part of the Wirral Peninsula to Merseyside, and a northern area including Stockport, Altrincham, Sale, Hyde, Dukinfield and Stalybridge to Greater Manchester.

Selected biography

Michael Owen in 2010

Michael James Owen (born 14 December 1979) is a former English football player who played as a striker. Born in Chester, his father Terry Owen was a professional footballer who played for Chester City and Everton.

Owen enjoyed a hugely successful and high-profile career at both club and international level, and in 2001 became one of a handful of English players to win the Ballon d'Or. As of 2019, he is fifth in the list of all-time top scorers for the England team and is England's eleventh most-capped player, having scored 26 competitive goals – formerly a national record – with 40 in total from 89 appearances (1998–2008). Pace and clinical finishing were Owen's greatest assets early in his career, though he later lost pace due to injuries.

In club football, he played for Liverpool (1996–2004), Real Madrid (2004–5), Newcastle United (2005–9), Manchester United (2009–12) and Stoke City (2012–13). He retired from football in 2013. He has subsequently owned and bred racehorses, and acts as a sports commentator and pundit.

Did you know...

Wrenbury Church Bridge

Selected town or village

Broomhall and Sound Church

Sound is a small settlement and civil parish near Nantwich. The parish covers 1,089 acres (441 ha) and also includes Newtown and Sound Heath, with a total population of around 240 in 2011. The name is of Saxon origin and means "a sandy place". The first record of the township is in 1310. It was raided by Royalist forces in 1643, during the Civil War. The Methodist chapel was built in 1838, and a primary school on the boundary with Broomhall opened in 1876. Other historic buildings include a rare example of a malt kiln.

The area is mainly agricultural, with dairy farming predominating. The flat terrain has an average elevation of around 60 metres. The River Weaver runs along the southern boundary and the Welsh Marches railway line crosses the parish. Sound Heath, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserve, is an important habitat for freshwater invertebrates and breeding birds. Nationally scarce species observed here include the mud snail, great raft spider, a species of water scavenger beetle and the beautiful snout moth.

In the news

Crewe Market Hall
Crewe Market Hall

29 October, 1 November: Warrington council and the mayor of Crewe each announce plans to bid for city status in 2022.

13–14 October: Prince Edward visits Chester and opens a Fire Service training centre in Winsford.

8 October: Castle Street shopping area in Macclesfield reopens after refurbishment.

4 October: Restoration of the grade-I-listed Bridgegate, part of Chester city walls, is completed.

25 September: A bronze frieze by the sculptor Tom Murphy is unveiled in Warrington, as a memorial to the band Viola Beach.

9 September: The fifth stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race takes place in Cheshire, starting at Alderley Park and finishing in Warrington.

24 July: The grade-II-listed Crewe Market Hall (pictured) formally reopens after refurbishment.

15 July: Crewe, Runcorn and Warrington are awarded potential funding under the "Town Deal" government scheme.

Quotation

This is a pretty Rich land; ... its much on Enclosures and I passed by severall large pooles of waters, but what I wonder'd at was yt tho' this shire is remarkable for a greate deale of greate Cheeses and Dairys I did not see more than 20 or 30 Cowes in a troope feeding, but on Enquiry find ye Custome of ye Country to joyn their milking together of a whole village and so make their great Cheeses.

From Through England on a Side Saddle by Celia Fiennes (1698)

Subcategories

Topics

Towns & Districts CHESHIRE | PLACES | CIVIL PARISHES | BY POPULATION | Alsager | Bollington | Chester | Congleton | Crewe | Ellesmere Port | Frodsham | Knutsford | Lymm | Macclesfield | Middlewich | Nantwich | Neston | Northwich | Poynton | Runcorn | Sandbach | Warrington | Widnes | Wilmslow | Winsford | Wirral
Geography & Ecology GEOLOGY | Cheshire Plain | Geology of Alderley Edge | HILLS | Bickerton Hill | Cats Tor | Kerridge Hill | Peckforton Hills | Shining Tor | Shutlingsloe | Tegg's Nose | Windgather Rocks | RIVERS & LAKES | Lamaload Reservoir | River Bollin | River Dane | River Dean | River Dee | River Gowy | River Goyt | River Mersey | River Weaver | SITES OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST | Cheshire Wildlife Trust | rECOrd | WOODLAND | Delamere Forest | Macclesfield Forest | Northwich Woodlands
History HISTORY | TIMELINE | [Agricultural history | Ancient parishes | History of Chester | Deva Victrix | History of Middlewich | History of salt in Middlewich | History of Northwich | History of Sandbach | Forests of Mara and Mondrem | ARCHAEOLOGY | SCHEDULED MONUMENTS: Pre-1066 | 1066–1539 | Post-1539 | Bridestones | Chester Roman Amphitheatre | Eddisbury hill fort | Lindow Man | Maiden Castle | Sandbach Crosses | MILITARY HISTORY | Battle of Brunanburh | Battle of Chester | First Battle of Middlewich | Battle of Nantwich | Battle of Rowton Heath | Bunbury Agreement | Cheshire Regiment | RAF Burtonwood | RAF Hooton Park | RAF Ringway
Sights PLACES OF INTEREST | CASTLES | Beeston Castle | Chester Castle | Cholmondeley Castle | Halton Castle | HISTORIC BUILDINGS | Adlington Hall | Arley Hall | Combermere Abbey | Dorfold Hall | Eaton Hall | Gawsworth Old Hall | Little Moreton Hall | Lyme Park | Norton Priory | Tatton Park | MUSEUMS & VISITOR ATTRACTIONS | Anderton Boat Lift | Anson Engine Museum | Blue Planet Aquarium | Catalyst Science Discovery Centre | Chester Zoo | Crewe Heritage Centre | Cuckooland Museum | Grosvenor Museum | Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker | Jodrell Bank Observatory | Lion Salt Works | National Waterways Museum | Quarry Bank Mill | Stretton Watermill | Warrington Museum | Weaver Hall Museum  | PUBLIC PARKS | Grosvenor Park | Marbury Country Park | Ness Botanic Gardens | Queens Park
Architecture ARCHITECTURE | Norman architecture | LISTED BUILDINGS | Grade I listed churches | Non-ecclesiastical grade I listed buildings outside Chester | Chester | Congleton | Frodsham | Great Budworth | Knutsford | Lymm | Macclesfield | Nantwich | Neston | Runcorn | Sandbach | Warrington | Wilmslow
Sport & Recreation SPORTING TEAMS | Alsager Town F.C. | Chester F.C. | Chester City F.C. | Cheshire County Cricket Club | Cheshire Phoenix | Crewe Alexandra F.C. | Crewe Railroaders | Congleton Town F.C. | Macclesfield F.C. | Macclesfield Town F.C. |Nantwich Town F.C. | 1874 Northwich F.C. | Northwich Victoria F.C. | Runcorn Linnets F.C. | Vauxhall Motors F.C. | Warrington Town F.C. | Warrington Wolves | Widnes Vikings | Winsford United F.C. | Witton Albion F.C. | SPORTING VENUES | Chester Racecourse | Oulton Park | County Cricket Club grounds | RECREATION | Walks
Economy ECONOMY | Agriculture | Cheshire cheese | Cheshire Show | Crewe Railway Works | Salt | Silk | Textile mills 
Transport BUSES | Arriva | CANALS | Cheshire Ring | Bridgewater Canal | Ellesmere Canal | Llangollen Canal | Macclesfield Canal | Manchester Ship Canal | Shropshire Union Canal | RAIL | Birkenhead Railway | Chester–Manchester Line | Crewe railway station | Crewe–Derby Line | Crewe–Manchester Line | Ellesmere Port–Warrington Line | Mid-Cheshire Line | Welsh Marches Line | ROADS | A34 | A41 | A49 | A50 | A56 | A500 | A537 | A556 | M6 | M53 | M56
Governance UNITARY AUTHORITIES | Cheshire East | Cheshire West and Chester | Halton | Warrington | PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES | EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Education, Health & Services SCHOOLS | HIGHER EDUCATION | University of Chester | University of Law | Reaseheath College | HEALTH | Countess of Chester Hospital | Halton General Hospital | Leighton Hospital | Macclesfield Hospital | Warrington Hospital | PRISONS | HMP Risley | HMP Styal | HMP Thorn Cross | SERVICES | Fire and Rescue | Police | United Utilities
 Culture & Media LITERATURE | Cheshire Cat | Cheshire dialect | THEATRE | The Brindley | Lyceum Theatre | Storyhouse | CONCERT HALLS | Parr Hall | NEWSPAPERS | Chester Chronicle | Crewe Chronicle | RADIO | BBC Radio Manchester | BBC Radio Merseyside | BBC Radio Stoke
 Religion RELIGION | CHURCHES | Bishop of Chester | Chester Cathedral | Diocese of Chester | Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury

Recommended articles

Towns & Villages Bradwall | Middlewich | Runcorn | Widnes
Sights Adlington Hall | All Saints' Church, Runcorn | Beeston Castle | Capesthorne Hall | Chester Cathedral | Chester Rows | Cholmondeley Castle | Churche's Mansion | Crewe Hall | Darnhall Abbey | Eaton Hall | Gawsworth Old Hall | Goat tower | Jodrell Bank Observatory | Little Moreton Hall
 | Lovell Telescope | Lyme Park | Norton Priory
 | Peckforton Castle | Rode Hall | St Mary's Church, Acton | St Mary's Church, Astbury | St Mary's Church, Nantwich | St Mary's Church, Nether Alderley | Tabley House | Vale Royal Abbey
History Battle of Brunanburh | Battle of Rowton Heath | Deva Victrix | Dispute between Darnhall and Vale Royal Abbey | Eddisbury hill fort | Lindow Man
 | Maiden Castle
Geography & Transport Bridgewater Canal | Chester Canal | Manchester Ship Canal
 | Northern England
 | Peak District | River Weaver
People Jonathan Agnew
 | Muthu Alagappan | Ben Amos | Adrian Boult
 | Thomas Brassey | Neil Brooks
 | Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet | James Chadwick
 | Djibril Cissé | Daniel Craig | Hilda Ellis Davidson | John Douglas
 | Rowland Egerton-Warburton | Thomas Harrison | Reginald Heber
 | Eddie Johnson | Margaret Ursula Jones | Levi Mackin | One Direction | Peter, Abbot of Vale Royal | Plegmund | Joseph Priestley
 | Mark Roberts | Nick Robinson | Edmund Sharpe
 | Robert Tatton | Stuart Tomlinson | Alan Turing | William Windsor
Lists Castles
 | Church restorations, amendments and furniture by John Douglas
 | Grade I listed churches
 | Houses and associated buildings by John Douglas
 | Listed buildings in Runcorn (rural area)
 | Listed buildings in Runcorn (urban area)
 | Listed buildings in Widnes
 | New churches by John Douglas
 | Non-ecclesiastical and non-residential works by John Douglas

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